Word Choice


            To make sure you express exactly what you mean, it’s always important to choose the right words for the situation. Word choice affects clarity and overall feeling of written pieces, and should not be taken lightly.


When writing, try to avoid repetition. Repeating the same word or phrase over and over again can cause the writing to become stale and boring. Try to vary not only words, but sentence structure as well to keep the writing organic and interesting for the reader. If you suspect that a particular word is being overused, a simple word search can help decide whether or not changes need to be made.


Furthermore, make sure language is appropriate for the intended audience, knowing beforehand whether the written piece should be more formal or casual. When writing for an academic audience, avoid casual language and stick to the 3rd person point of view. In most cases, avoid slang, lingo, or jargon. On the other hand, don’t overuse large or technical words just to “sound smart”. Using words that are unfamiliar just because they seem “smarter” risks creating unnecessarily complicated sentences, which clouds meaning.


Equally important to language, writers always need to consider to connotations of the words they are using. Connotation is the idea or feeling that a word invokes in addition to its dictionary definition, so different words with the same defined meaning will cause the reader to have different reactions. For example, if someone is inactive, they can either be described as lazy or relaxed. Both words have the same meaning, but to most audiences, “lazy” portrays the subject much more negatively than “relaxed” does.